Limetree Bay agreem...
 

Limetree Bay agreement is hardly 'manna from heaven'  

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Alana33
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August 27, 2018 3:08 pm  

Op Ed from DN:
August 25, 2018

Politicians say that we are at a crossroads, facing economic hardship. But we are in a political year and promises are a comfort to a fool. The late, great Bob Marley once said, “Never trust a politician to grant you a favor, they will always want to control you forever.”

Politicians have looked upon the agreement between Limetree Bay Terminals and the Virgin Islands government as manna from heaven. However, when you read the document word for word, page by page, and do the math, it does not add up to manna from heaven.

Believe me, from the negotiation table of the government of the Virgin Islands and Limetree Bay Terminals, we got the falling crumbs of manna from heaven instead of a fair share whereby both parties benefit for the betterment of the people of the Virgin Islands. A dog is better off than we are, as a people under this agreement.

More than 50 years ago, two industrial giants, Harvey Aluminum plant and Hess Oil Refinery, established themselves on the south shore of St. Croix. In the 1960s, the industrial revolution took place in the Virgin Islands with the phasing out of the sugarcane industry on St. Croix.

The Krause Lagoon, the largest wetland in the Virgin Islands, was destroyed when lawmakers decided to vote in favor of developing the south shore of St. Croix as an industrial complex. Issues that we face today, such as jobs for locals, were the same issues 50 years ago. Leo Harvey promised to build an aluminum plant and dredge the south shore lagoon of St. Croix if the Virgin Islands government would give him 750 acres and award large tax subsidies.

Harvey also promised the aluminum plant development would create hundreds of jobs for local people. From the beginning of this deal, the community was locked out. The deal was kept quiet, according to the late Frits E. Lawaetz, who was a senator at that time. Public hearings were eventually held that would not allow the community to ask questions about the deal. It was later learned that the public hearing was a joke because the Unity majority in the Senate at that time and the governor already signed the deal in a secret session on Feb. 20, 1962.

To make a long political story short, senators were given the agreement to vote up or down with no changes allowed. Hundreds of people were imported to work at the aluminum plant. Harvey claimed local people were unskilled. For years, our government fought in court for the aluminum plant company to clean up the environment.

Meanwhile, hundreds of local people got sick, and some died, blaming the company. The mountain of red dust from the aluminum plant landed on rooftops of houses for decades, impacting the quality of life for residents downwind from the plant. When Hess Oil Refinery arrived on St. Croix in the middle of the 1960s, you would think our government would do a better job negotiating a good deal for the people of these islands.

Unlike the aluminum plant, Hess Oil Refinery built a training school, but few locals graduated. As a result, few locals entered the workforce of the oil refinery. Folks from other Caribbean islands who had the experience and skills with refineries got the jobs. Other workers were brought in from the U.S. mainland to make up the difference.

As Virgin Islanders, we must admit that the standard of living in the Virgin Islands had increased with the industrial development on the south shore of St. Croix.

However, we have paid a great price with the impact of the environment and our health. The first agreement with Leon Hess, and others in between including the present agreement with Limetree Bay Terminals and ArcLight, were not in the best interest of the people of these islands. The many tax exemptions the company received, and the other agreements in the proposal all favored the company. Beside all the benefit the company is getting from this government, the issue I believe is the impacts on the marine and terrestrial environments and on human health. You can’t put a value on human life.

For more than 50 years since the industrial complex came to exist on St. Croix, we don’t have a cancer registry in the Virgin Islands. Hundreds of residents have died from cancer. Besides some of the food that we eat, our air is filled with environmental toxins. We breathe the air every day. Sometimes when you are diagnosed with cancer, you might hear the doctor say environmental toxin. In other words, you can get cancer from the air, water, soil, living near industrial areas, etc. Believe me, the impact of the oil refinery on the environment is far-reaching.

Along the south, west, and northwest shores of St. Croix, I have found on many occasions oil deposits that wash up on our beaches. For example, Manning’s Bay west of the refinery has sand that is black from pollution. The entire south shore of St. Croix is gone forever. It is the most polluted place in the Virgin Islands coastal waters. If senators had hiked with me on the south shore of St. Croix, they would have probably not voted for the agreement.

“From Lime Tree Bay to Sandy Point, once sparkling, translucent water now resembled watered down milk. Colloidal clays in suspension destroyed reefs and fish and made bathing repulsive. The entire estuarine faunal life wreathed in the throes of extirpation, if not already dead. Here and there, a few gray ghosts of once luxuriant mangrove cropped out of poisonous–looking mud. An entire living, breathing, self-perpetuating, interrelated cosmography now lay under roads, buildings, tanks, piers, pipes, and stacks belching offensive and deleterious effluvium into the summer sky,” wrote the late George A. Seaman.

With his last breath, Seaman said, “As I looked I felt a heavy depression in my heart. A great sadness filled me, as I realized it was too late in our blind, forward march to stay this hand of Esau. History and time have taught men nothing; he will still sell his birthright. So be it.”

I rest my case.

— Olasee Davis, St. Croix, is an ecologist at the University of the Virgin Islands. He is active in Virgin Islands historical, cultural and environmental preservation.


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sunshinefun
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August 27, 2018 3:56 pm  

It's not my problem or concern that the local government is inept and unable to craft a better agreement than the one they did. But, I can tell you as a business owner here on STX, the Arclight deal has been been golden for my business.

I'm fortunate to not have to live here any longer than is necessary to fully fund my retirement account since I own a home without a mortgage elsewhere on the mainland. Sure, when I retire I might come back in the winters. But, I'm just as likely to go somewhere else for a change.

The people of the Virgin Islands continue to elect these fools, so, they can live with the effects of their choices. I don't have to.


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ironheadUSVI
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August 28, 2018 10:34 am  

Olassee Davis never worked in either Hess or Harvey and his claims on employment are bullshit. Therefor how can anyone give credence to the rest of his article when he leads with lies. Yes, I worked in both places.

Black beaches? really? More BS.


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Fishbait
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August 28, 2018 6:02 pm  

So the ground under the rusting hulks of metal at Limetree used to be pristine marshland? Lets pretend for a minute that the government of the USVi had all the money in the world and could buy the property and spend many millions trying to restore it back to it's former ecological state. How many generations would it take until the damage was completely reversed? My guess is many generations...

If the previous owners did cause major pollution they could be made to clean it up. General Electric was forced to dredge the Hudson River in NY for PCB contamination after discharging waste water LEGALLY many years earlier. But the court fight was epic. This is probably not something a territory in financial trouble would be able to take on. It's not likely to happen with the current admin in Washington either.

Lets face it. The damage is done, was done, for economic benefit. People who didn't care or didn't have to comply with many regulations back then built it into what it is. The best bet now is probably to continue to get the best economic benefit out of it while adhering to EPA & VI regulations for pollution and safety.

One thing that scares me though is that according to VITEMA's map, the entire area of tanks and refinery is within the tsunami evacuation zone. I pray that disaster never happens.


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sttanon
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August 28, 2018 11:12 pm  

If the previous owners did cause major pollution they could be made to clean it up. General Electric was forced to dredge the Hudson River in NY for PCB contamination after discharging waste water LEGALLY many years earlier. But the court fight was epic. This is probably not something a territory in financial trouble would be able to take on. It's not likely to happen with the current admin in Washington either.

That isnt going to happen really. Limetree agreement exempts them from any existing issues , they insisted on it. Hovensa is bankrupt and defunct so good luck with them.

We cant have it both ways. Refineries arent the best when they are at their best as far as being eco friendly. I've grownup around the biz, lived around it all over in the states, even worked as IT geek for Brown and Root before I moved in '95. What we can hope for is good oversight of the operations to make sure that in the restart things are done right....


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Cruz
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August 29, 2018 1:26 am  

Your comments speak for themselves....and that's part of the problem; too many others think just like you.....

It's not my problem or concern that the local government is inept and unable to craft a better agreement than the one they did. But, I can tell you as a business owner here on STX, the Arclight deal has been been golden for my business.

I'm fortunate to not have to live here any longer than is necessary to fully fund my retirement account since I own a home without a mortgage elsewhere on the mainland. Sure, when I retire I might come back in the winters. But, I'm just as likely to go somewhere else for a change.

The people of the Virgin Islands continue to elect these fools, so, they can live with the effects of their choices. I don't have to.


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sunshinefun
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August 29, 2018 11:27 am  

Your comments speak for themselves....and that's part of the problem; too many others think just like you.....

Yup...here for a good time, not a long time.


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pt
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August 29, 2018 12:05 pm  

Sunshinefun is just being ironic! Nobody could be that absolutely nihilistic. But he (I assume from the strident tone) is just at that point in S. Kierkegaard's philosophy where the individual suddenly flips over into absolute acceptance, love and action for the good. A real flower-child!
If he or she is pulling our legs to make a point, great job!

PT


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Jvercher1
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August 29, 2018 12:06 pm  

I apologize in advance for this semi-off topic question; however there are persons on this thread who appear to have been around when the refinery was open before. When the refinery was running, did it produce strong sulfur odor from the refining process. The refineries here in Texas cause the surrounding areas to unfortunate areas to live due to the odors produced from the plants. Just curious of the impact on St Croix.

Thanks in advance.

Jeff


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Alana33
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ironheadUSVI
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August 29, 2018 1:01 pm  

I apologize in advance for this semi-off topic question; however there are persons on this thread who appear to have been around when the refinery was open before. When the refinery was running, did it produce strong sulfur odor from the refining process. The refineries here in Texas cause the surrounding areas to unfortunate areas to live due to the odors produced from the plants. Just curious of the impact on St Croix.

Thanks in advance.

Jeff

Yes, I worked at Martin Marietta, at Hess and at Hovensa.
27 years as a direct employee for the last two and 10 years as in indirect employee.

The smells and effects are debatable since there are no records that you can rely on.

I never noticed any smells during normal operations. Yes, there were smells during upsets.


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ironheadUSVI
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August 29, 2018 1:05 pm  

https://www.epa.gov/hwcorrectiveactionsites/hazardous-waste-cleanup-hovensa-llc-christiansted-us-virgin-islands

That was 5 years ago. Groundwater recovery did not stop when the refinery closed.


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sunshinefun
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August 29, 2018 2:07 pm  

Sunshinefun is just being ironic! Nobody could be that absolutely nihilistic. But he (I assume from the strident tone) is just at that point in S. Kierkegaard's philosophy where the individual suddenly flips over into absolute acceptance, love and action for the good. A real flower-child!
If he or she is pulling our legs to make a point, great job!

PT

No, I wasn't being ironic or nihilistic. I've lived here a long time and just don't care anymore because nothing really changes. I came here for a reason and have an exit plan. There are lots of people here who feel the same way I do.


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Alana33
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August 29, 2018 8:26 pm  

https://www.epa.gov/hwcorrectiveactionsites/hazardous-waste-cleanup-hovensa-llc-christiansted-us-virgin-islands

That was 5 years ago. Groundwater recovery did not stop when the refinery closed.

Correct. It's still ongoing as is the resulting contamination of the Tutu. groundwater wells on STT.


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singlefin
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August 29, 2018 9:02 pm  

I’ve come to believe that the residents of this island are very accepting. That’s a great attribute to have for many reasons, however many of the problems we have here wouldn’t exist if the people were less so.

In other words, we accept the poor road conditions, limited health care options, intermittent electrical service, unethical politicians, and so many other things often debated about here.

Things could be different.
But then things would be different.
Classic catch-22 situation...


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Alana33
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August 30, 2018 12:16 am  

I’ve come to believe that the residents of this island are very accepting. That’s a great attribute to have for many reasons, however many of the problems we have here wouldn’t exist if the people were less so.

In other words, we accept the poor road conditions, limited health care options, intermittent electrical service, unethical politicians, and so many other things often debated about here.

Things could be different.
But then things would be different.
Classic catch-22 situation...

Unfortunately, that's true.
The majority of newcomers just aren't invested nor involved in long term, become activists nor vote.
I've always believed that "squeaky wheel. get grease."

As sunshinefun stated:
They're here for:
Yup...here for a good time, not a long time.

Hard times come, they move on and while they're here, they're either not aware or don't give a crap 'cause it's not their problem.
No offense intended BTW.


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Alana33
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August 30, 2018 12:41 am  

Olassee Davis never worked in either Hess or Harvey and his claims on employment are bullshit. Therefor how can anyone give credence to the rest of his article when he leads with lies. Yes, I worked in both places.

Black beaches? really? More BS.

Olasee Davis, St. Croix, is an ecologist at the University of the Virgin Islands. He is active in Virgin Islands historical, cultural and environmental preservation.)

Sorry , Ironhead but I've followed this man and George Seaman (RIP) for decades. They know of what they speak and are/were dedicated.

While I'm glad you had a great job,
all of these plants took a great toll on the environment and we still have the ongoing effects.


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singlefin
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August 30, 2018 1:06 am  

”Olasee Davis, St. Croix, is an ecologist at the University of the Virgin Islands. He is active in Virgin Islands historical, cultural and environmental preservation.”

Without the industries St. Croix has had over the years, the University of the Virgin Islands would only be a shadow of what it is today. Would Mr. Davis have ever been employed by the University if these businesses weren’t supporting the entire economic base of the island?

There’s that “classic catch-22” kickin in again.


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Alana33
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August 30, 2018 2:33 am  

But without the beauty of the VI and other places, that draw people to them and environmental standards that are proposed to protect them and drastically have failed, what would you prefer?
It is a catch 22.
Ultimately, you decide whether you want uncontaminated waters, air, beaches, corals and an environment that can sustain the threats to it.


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Alana33
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ironheadUSVI
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August 30, 2018 10:06 am  

Sorry , Ironhead but I've followed this man and George Seaman (RIP) for decades. They know of what they speak and are/were dedicated.

So where is this black beach he is talking about, caused by oil from the refinery? Here's a clue: it does not exist.


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Alana33
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August 30, 2018 12:42 pm  

Do you ever go to the beaches?
I grew up here and have seen profound changes
How many times are your STX beaches labeled as unsafe to swim due to ENTEROCCI BACTERIA?
No Sargassum?
No degraded reef systems?
Do you live upwind or downwind?

The point is that you can't continue to degrade the environment and not have consequences
Where do you get your drinking water from?


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Gator's Mom
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August 30, 2018 1:07 pm  

Most of the VI is a man-made landscape sculpted and laid bare by King Sugar.

Native animals particularly ground nesting birds were decimated by the introduction of mongoose. Deer were brought in to hunt. Goats, cattle, chickens …. lionfish and boa constrictors …. the list goes on.

We could talk about the cruise industry and its impact on STT environment as well as the refinery on STX if you want to broaden the discussion.

People have to live, people have to eat …..

But on STX, word to the wise, live upwind (east of the refinery). West is best until the refinery belches.


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singlefin
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August 30, 2018 1:28 pm  

Not to drift to far off topic, but the environmentalists are constantly shouting about how every human endeavor is leading to “global warming.”
Global warming & cooling has been taking place since man first walked on this planet, and our species has been able to overcome and adapt to each change, ice age and all.
I’m sure humans are affecting the climate, but the point is we’ll deal with it as we have before, in fact with all our technological advancements, better than before. Even WAPA manufactures mass quantities of “drinking water” from our surrounding sea water for instance.
This is not the end of the world, the sky is not falling... or is it?


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islandjoan
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August 30, 2018 1:55 pm  

To anyone who makes this argument, I always reply with the following:

Large scale industry and manufacturing did not exist prior to the 18th century.

The amount of humans walking the planet has increased exponentially from around 1 billion in 1800 to around 7.2 billion now.

So, these two factors combined most surely have had a negative impact on the environment, and hence, weather patterns and global climate change.

We DON'T KNOW if humankind will be able to deal with it!!!!

We see daily that the weather is definitely changing - stuck patterns of weather are causing REPEAT events in the same locations, whether it be rain, snow, heat or cold, or fires. You see it on TWC every day!

Environmentalists are not "constantly shouting"! They are trying to help!!! (now I"m shouting because this is a sore topic for me. All the naysayers out there bug the heck out of me)

Not to drift to far off topic, but the environmentalists are constantly shouting about how every human endeavor is leading to “global warming.”
Global warming & cooling has been taking place since man first walked on this planet, and our species has been able to overcome and adapt to each change, ice age and all.
I’m sure humans are affecting the climate, but the point is we’ll deal with it as we have before, in fact with all our technological advancements, better than before. Even WAPA manufactures mass quantities of “drinking water” from our surrounding sea water for instance.
This is not the end of the world, the sky is not falling... or is it?


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